This is totally and completely a post in which I will release some pent-up frustration...reader beware!

*steps on soapbox*

When I get bored at work, I have the habit of "blog-stalking." Basically, I follow links to other blogs that I find on friends'/acquaintances' blogs. Lately, I've been reading blogs I've found through a girl that was in my last BYU ward before I got married. All of them are what you would call "crunchy". This girl is a bit crunchy herself. Now, I'm of the "to each his (or her) own" school of thought, so even though I see some of the ideas and notions these ladies as a little absurd, hey, they're free to live as they choose. The thing that irks me is that some of these ladies are not as open-minded as I am about the choices others make. I'm talking primarily about the views they have on childbirth and mothering.

I had what I thought was a fairly typical pregnancy and birth with my son. I had regular prenatal visits with a OB/GYN (though I occasionally saw the nurse midwife in his office). I did not start having contractions on my own, and my doctor was concerned about the size of my baby, so he induced me at 41 weeks. I was admitted to a hospital for my labor and delivery. I had a pitocin drip all through my labor, and I got an epidural about 3 1/2 hours in. I pushed for 15 minutes and birthed a healthy, 9 1/2 pound boy. I was informed and aware when I made the choice to be induced, and the choice to have an epidural.

Now that I'm a mother, I've tried to make the best choices for my son. I started out breastfeeding him, but at about 6 weeks it started to become a fight between him and me--he's always had a strong will. I held out for another month and a half, and then I finally made the hard choice to bottle-feed him. In the end, we both did a lot less crying. I went back to work after 3 months of being home with him, but Cole and I have tried our best to work our schedules so Kyle spends as little time as possible with people besides us. When it doesn't quite work out, Kyle spends the time with my mom or other relatives of Cole and me. When I'm home I try to spend as much time with him as possible. We try to keep him on a good schedule, since he's happier that way. We've taken him to regular visits with a pediatrician, and he's received immunizations. I know I'm not perfect, but I do my best. Despite that, due to my nature, I am extremely critical of myself, and I often feel like I'm "doing it wrong", or, when I'm feeling especially down, that someone else could do a much better job of raising Kyle. I still regret not being able to breastfeed Kyle longer than I did, even though I know I tried my best and I honestly believe that Kyle is, by nature, too independent and he decided he was done breastfeeding. I frequently doubt myself and the choices I've made.

Now, this all sounds like a personal problem, I know. And it is, I admit. What irritates me about these "crunchy" mothers is that they assume their way of birth and parenting is the best way, and anyone that chooses differently is wrong or stupid or causing undue harm to her children. If you trust a doctor for prenatal care or labor and delivery or pediatrics, you're a sheep that has been brainwashed by society, or you don't trust your body to do what it's built to do. If you immunize your child, you are perpetuating the country's dependence on medical personnel. If you stop nursing your child before they can talk, you are depriving them of vital nutrients, which is catastrophic to their health and well-being. None of these ladies attack me personally, so any offense taken is purely my own fault. However, if I ever met any of them on the street and we struck up a conversation about children and birth, I have little doubt that their judgment of me would show in their words or in their body language (if they have more tact). The idea that someone who doesn't even know me would judge me like this irritates me, but it also makes me that much more self-conscious about how I raise Kyle...and THAT irritates me even more. NO ONE should be made to feel guilty about how she brings children into the world and how she chooses to raise them, so long as she is making an honest effort to do her best. What's right for one mother and her children is not necessarily right for another mother and children.

Now, to be fair, I know there are plenty of folks who have similar views as I do that are just as judgmental. I only wish that everyone would be more accepting and less judgmental, no matter what he/she believes.

*steps down from soapbox*


Jay and Natalie said...

OMG. I TOTALLY understand EXACTLY where you are coming from.

I'm guilty of blog stalking as well, and I found my way to--most likely--the exact same blogs you must be talking about. After reading about them, I thought, "Wow, that's really cool that they chose to do it that way."

But then, I agree, it seems that's the "only" way to do it right. I don't think so. There is no one right way to do a lot of things, and I think taking advantage of the healthcare system while we have it is just fine. I couldn't help but feel that I was being judged because I see an OB regularly--and she is WONDERFUL--and want to get my child immunized and I'm going to have my birth in a hospital and whatnot. This is not because I've been brainwashed by society. Rather, Jay and I have done the research and decided it would be best for us to do these things. I considered a home birth, but decided I would rather play it safe and deliver in a hospital with people who know what they're doing.

Good for these people for deciding what they think is best. But I wish they could just stop thinking their way is the best and only way to have children.

Jessica, you're amazing! You are a fantastic mother, no matter how crunchy or not you are. The only thing that matters is that you apply your morals and beliefs to raising your child and that you love him to death and want what's best for him! There is no one way to raise children. And my sister-in-law had the same issue with breastfeeding. I mean, if he's not going to breastfeed, you're not going to let him starve!! I don't even think a crunchy mom would do that!

Loves--I miss you!!!!

Carl and Steph said...

Amen. That's all.

Joel said...

Well, I totally just think you are a bad mother. Haha J/K. I am glad you see they are the ones at fault, no one knows your child as well as you do. Good for you for not letting their comments effect your confidence in being a good parent.

Parkers said...

I love you, Jessica! I'm glad that we are together in the boat of "mothers of independent children". Lily also stopped breast feeding (at six months) and I cried for two days straight-- every time I sat down to give her a bottle. You see, I started out to be a little "crunchy" (hopefully not as extreme as the ladies you mentioned, though); but, Lily had her own idea of how she was going to be raised. She made me endure thirteen hours of labor-- so I got the epidural. She hated breast feeding-- so she got a bottle. All I can say is that each child is so different. Just wait until those mothers get babies like we have and then they might be singing a different song :)

Katie said...

I agree with you, Jessica.

The question of which is the right way to do what (birthing, vaccinating, and so forth) is the lesser concern to the question of why people feel a need to criticize, judge, and condemn others for their choices.

Regardless of what is "right" or "wrong" (which is so subjective in most cases anyway), I say to each his own. In the meantime, I wish we could all learn to love and support each other, and also to LEARN from each other with love and understanding. Is that too much to ask? :) haha.

By the way, I'm sure you are doing a fantastic job at being Kyle's mommy!!! And I also think your feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy are normal. We all feel that way sometimes.

Joshua weaned himself at 6 months (as in flat out REFUSED to nurse). I went back to work when he was less than two months old. He's been to more babysitters than I can remember while I finished school. In my idealistic, perfect world, a lot of things about my experience with birth and motherhood would be different; but right now all I can do is be the best mother I know how to be and to respect other mothers for doing the same. That being said, I most definitely respect you. :)

Jilly said...

Jessica, first you are a fabulous mother!

I agree with all that you are saying about people and their strong opinions of "perfect child rearing"...I just wish that I would have learned earlier that doing your best is all that matters. It has only taken me having three children to realize that it doesn't matter what other people say or think.

I have to remind myself often that every situation is a new and separate one. I can't get down on myself for doing the best I can do. Therefore, if I don't breast-feed my youngest child, for example, as long as the others, it is all right. My initial birth experience was much different than I wanted it to be. However, in the end, I was so grateful for the epidural and all that happened.

Motherhood is a joy and sometimes just sitting back and watching them thrive makes all the choices that have to be made, worth the challenge.

Thank you, Jessica! You are WONDERFUL!!

CC said...

Hey Jessica... funny you should talk about blog-stalking and I was doing that very thing.

Now keep in mind that according to those "crunchy" mothers, where childbirth and feeding are concerned, I did EVERYTHING wrong. I have had 3 wonderful children by cesarean and gave up breastfeeding each of them before 6 weeks were over. I remember going through ad nauseum all of the thoughts you just posted. You are always going to come across people (mostly women it seems) who will try to one up you. And the feeling of one-up-ing may, in fact, be all in my head and yours. But none of us is perfect. Hopefully, our attitudes can change one day to stop comparing ourselves to others and hopefully theirs will too such that they don't damage their children as adults when heaven forbid a daughter or daughter-in-law has to have a c-section.

Ok, sorry my own venting going on... stalk ya later!!

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